Jun 10, 2021 • 1HR 2M

No Future of Work without Empathy

A conversation with Sophie Wade about the future of work, the impact of the pandemic, the "hybrid" workspace, leadership and empathy

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For this new episode of the Building Bridges podcast, I’m thrilled to share my interview with Sophie Wade, a speaker, writer (and podcaster) about the future of work who is the author of the book Embracing Progress: Next Steps for the Future of Work. She is adamant: working with empathy is the future!

Sophie was born in England but now she lives and works in the US. She lived in many countries before that, therefore she has a multicultural approach to the subject that I was especially drawn to. She worked as a consultant with numerous executives and acquired a broad, deep knowledge of work-related issues, such as corporate culture, recruiting talent, leadership, transformation and now “hybrid work” and how to make it right. We talked about all these subjects that are part of my own daily research too.

What’s the most unexpected work-related transformation brought about by the pandemic? What does “hybrid” look like? What are the challenges associated with it? How do we make the workplace more inclusive in this day and age? How should leadership evolve? How does one change their mindset to become “future proof”? And how much of all this talk about the future of work is determined by culture? What can intercultural comparisons teach us?

A few years ago she published this book titled Embracing Progress in which she presents empathy as the solution to a lot of the problems faced by organisations. When it comes to leadership, for example, the battle between ego and empathy is the single most decisive battle. It involves “shifting identity and choice”:

The “ego” of the emerging brand of leadership is not the “command and control” type of autocrat that this word has evoked in the past. Now, it’s more about empathy—creating an environment based on trust and respect—in order to engage the workforce and improve employee ego, stimulating self-awareness and self-worth. Ego here is also about the company’s identity, the values and purpose that the leadership aligns with.

When leaders understand the identity of their company and the workers that comprise it, leading people is more about engaging and guiding them. Values echoed by the leaders of a company offer a clear and more “natural” direction for the workforce to follow in their own actions, relating to everything from daily tasks to long-term goals and career planning.

I hope you enjoy listening to this podcast! Do not forget to share it with people who might be interested 👇


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  • Also Building Bridges is part of a network of Substack newsletters, which you may want to discover: there’s my Laetitia@Work (about the future of work, with a feminist perspective), and Nicolas’s Colin European Straits (about the Entrepreneurial Age, viewed from Europe).

(Credit: Franz Liszt, Angelus ! Prière Aux Anges Gardiens—extrait du disque Miroirs de Jonas Vitaud, NoMadMusic.)